Who Is Nesting in This Birdhouse?

A red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) on the roof of a nest box that houses an Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio).

This Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio), receives a visit from a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) at its nest box. Image: Simon Lunn © Simon Lunn

When you work in the Discovery Zone at the Canadian Museum of Nature, you never know what interesting story might come up. Recently, Mr. Simon Lunn (a participant in our Community Biodiversity Ambassadors programme) showcased some of his outdoor and wildlife photography.

From a young age, photography has been a hobby and passion for Simon—a skill he has used while working as a naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, and Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia.

Along with his photographs, Simon presented an amazing video that captured the attention of his audience and caused quite the hoot! As the story goes, Simon has several nest boxes set up in the woods and edge habitat around his home for birds such as Wood Ducks, wrens, Tree Swallows and bluebirds to use.

As far as he could tell, one of the boxes he erected for Wood Ducks in the hemlock trees near his garage had seen no activity at all. So, last spring he decided to investigate further and make sure the box was in good shape heading into the summer breeding season.

What he found was a bit of a surprise! Inside was a small Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) sitting on several fairly big, white eggs. No wonder the Wood Ducks were no longer interested in using that box for a nesting site!

Simon managed to capture this short video clip of the screech owl mother with her six owlets a couple of weeks later. We showed it in our Discovery Zone. Simon was also pleased to report that all the young screech owls fledged successfully and were last observed in the cedar woods around his home!

A juvenile Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) in a tree.

A juvenile Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) that Simon Lunn saw near his home. Image: Simon Lunn © Simon Lunn

The moral of this story is that whether you build a nest box, bird feeder, or bat house, you never know what wild guests might decide to show up! In this case, a Wood Duck box must have looked like a cozy condominium to the owl family.

More importantly, photography is a wonderful hobby to capture amazing moments in nature without disturbing wildlife. Simon also reported that several of his smaller nest boxes were actually used by flying squirrels—but that’s another story.

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2 Responses to Who Is Nesting in This Birdhouse?

  1. Joel Hernández Marín says:

    My name is Joel Hernández, I´m cuban and I was at the Canadian Museum of Nature in June 2000 at the Canada – Cuba – Mexico student exchange. I´m working as an environmental educator in Cuba and I want to keep contact with another environmental educator at the Canadian Museum of nature…
    I hope your help

  2. Emily Choy says:

    Hi Joel,
    I would be happy to help you and will pass your message along to the other educators. Is there an email address we may contact you at?

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